HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Blue Heron
Author: Avi (Edward Irving Wortis)
Publisher: HarperCollins, reissued 1993
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Said to be for ages 8 – 12, I would say ages 12 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Avi (Edward Irving Wortis). Blue Heron (published in 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Ave., New York City, NY 10022; republished in 1993 by Avon-Camelot Books, a division of The Hearst Corporation, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10019). Almost thirteen year old Margaret (Maggie) Lavchek lives with her mother, who is a nurse at a community college, in Seattle, WA. Her mom and dad Alan, who is fifty years old and in the insurance business, were divorced when Maggie was six. Since then, Maggie has spent each August with her father at his home in Boston, MA. However, this year he has rented a summer cottage known as Finn’s Lodge on Sawdy Pond at Westport, MA, near Fall River. His young wife of two years Joanna, who was formerly his secretary, and their four month old baby daughter Linda will also be there. When she gets to the cottage, one of the first things that Maggie sees is a great blue heron.
Unfortunately, Maggie also sees that her dad is unusually tense, nervous, and edgy. While spending a lot of time watching the heron fish in the nearby marsh, she learns that Mr. Lavchek has heart problems and is not taking his medicine, does not get along well with Joanna or the baby, and in fact has lost his job. How can Maggie learn to cope with the situation? Is there anything that she can do to help? In what way does the blue heron help her decide how to react? And, by the way, who is trying to kill the heron? It is an unfortunate sign of the times that for today’s youth fiction to be considered “relevant” it must include broken homes, children of divorce, blended families, and dysfunctional relationships. Yes, I know that such situations exist and that people have to deal with them, but it is still sad.
As to language, it is said that Dad swore, though at that point no specific swear words are mentioned. However, later Dad uses the “h” word and the semi-vulgar term “crap.” Also the names of God and Lord are occasionally found as exclamations, especially by Joanna. In addition, Dad drinks a beer, and there is a reference to mosquitoes evolving 350 million years ago. Avi is not my favorite author, but it is almost amazing that he can take such troublesome circumstances and treat them in a way that leads up to a possibly hopeful conclusion. However, it is still an extremely heavy burden for a young girl who is just becoming a teenager to bear. I think that many youngsters would probably find the book a real downer.